At the beginning of February, the Celts celebrate Imbolc (im’olk) or Candlemas, the Feast of Lights. February 2 is often chosen as the day of celebration because it marks the cross-quarter day on the calendar, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Locally, it may be celebrated around the time of the first sign of spring.
Imbolc is a time of weather prognostication and the tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens may be a precursor to the North American Groundhog Day. A Scottish-Gaelic proverb states:
The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.
Imbolc also coincides with the feast day of St. Brigit (known as the Bride of Scotland). Brigit or Brigid is the goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft. She is associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing. Therefore fire and purification are an important aspect of this festival. The lighting of candles and fires represents warmth and the increasing power of the sun over the coming months.
Celebrate Imbolc by cleaning your house (purification), making a St. Brigit cross, or leaving a silk ribbon on your doorstep for Brigit to bless; it can then be used for healing purposes. Meditate on what you would like to see grow in health and strength this year.